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The End of All Things Series by Lissa Bryan
Interview with Lissa Bryan
Where did you come up with the titles?
The titles of all three novels come from The Lord of the Rings, which is the last movie my heroine, Carly, watches with her father before he dies of the pandemic virus sweeping around the world. In Tolkien’s saga, his characters are going on a long journey with a heavy burden —so are mine. In both stories, the characters are irrevocably changed by their experiences.
The title of the first novel, and of the series itself, comes from a line that Frodo says to Sam: “I’m glad you could be here with me, Sam. Here, at the end of all things.” The second one comes from a line in The Fellowship of the Ring, about Sam and Frodo crossing the border into Mordor, into “the land of the Shadow,” and the final title comes from something Sam says to Frodo in the Two Towers (in this case, the movie, but not the book). Sam says that sometimes you don’t want to know what happens to characters after the end of the story— how could everything turn out well, after they had endured so much? But Sam has faith the sun will be brighter in the end, after the shadows have gone.
Who designed the covers?
My publisher has the authors collaborate with artists to design their own covers, which is awesome, a freedom and control many publishers don’t offer. After I finished the editing process for The End of All Things, I was assigned an artist, but I still didn’t have a clue what I wanted. It was a difficult process for me because I’m more attuned to words than I am to images, and so trying to pick one that encapsulated the story was very difficult. I tried searching stock photo sites for post-apocalyptic images, and came away very discouraged. (Apparently, in a post-apocalyptic world, gun-toting girls will wear gasmasks with bikinis and miniskirts.) I couldn’t find anything I liked, but my publisher’s emails were getting more insistent on the subject. My book needed a cover before it could be finalized for production.
One evening, I was browsing through a friend’s vacation photos when I found it, the exact image I wanted for my cover, what I had been looking for all along, but had been unable to visually articulate. It was a picture her daughter had snapped while they were driving through a long tunnel. As soon as I saw it, I got excited. My artist, Jada D’Lee (who has gone on to design quite a few awesome covers for other authors) was able to take the photo and re-work it into a gritty piece of modern art that perfectly conceptualized the mood I was going for. That’s why I decided to use it as the cover for the whole series in the compendium edition.
Jada also did the cover for the second volume, Land of the Shadow. What I liked about this was that the image shows the growth Carly has experienced so far. In the image, she’s taking the lead. The third cover was done by Jennifer McGuire, and shows Carly and Justin as partners, headed toward that sunlit place where the shadows have melted away.
Did you travel much for research?
I did do some traveling for these books, but mostly so I could explore abandoned locations to see how places would look after just a few years of neglect. I was surprised at how quickly things fell apart without regular maintenance and nature took over. I traveled to small, dying ghost towns, and then to Detroit so I could see how quickly boarded up and abandoned properties decay.
The locations I didn’t physically travel to, I scouted with Google Street View. I “walked” every step of Carly and Justin’s journey with them because I wanted to describe their surroundings accurately. I’m sort of pedantic that way— I want to know if my characters would really be walking uphill or downhill in a certain spot. Some locations I fictionalized, but in others, I’d actually search for vacation photos online so I could describe the color of the carpet in a location correctly.
The End of All Things by Lissa Bryan
Publication Date: January 24, 2013
After a terrible virus ravages the planet, Carly Daniels, one of the few survivors, hides in her apartment in Juneau trying to survive the best she can with only occasional forays to gather food. With her is Sam, a wolf puppy she found starving on the streets. He becomes her companion and a reason to continue when giving up sometimes seems like the more attractive option. Still dazed with shock and grief, she hopes for the world to go back to normal soon.
She is discovered by Justin, an ex-soldier who is intent on making his way to Florida before the winter sets in. Justin coaxes her out of her hiding place and convinces her to join him on his journey, because a warmer climate will be their best chance against the extremes of Mother Nature.
Together, they begin a perilous journey through a nation laid to waste by the disaster. Challenges abound along the way. The weather, injury, and shortage of supplies all help to slow them down. In time, they discover that they aren’t the only survivors. Some are friendly but some have had their minds destroyed by the high fever. Then there are those who simply take what they want, leaving Carly and Justin with no choice but to defend what is theirs.
But their journey is not without joy and love. Together, they face every struggle, including an unplanned pregnancy. Despite the perils of bringing a child into a world of chaos, their baby is a new beginning for themselves and a symbol of hope for the other survivors they find along the way.
This is the story of their journey to find a place to begin a new life, and a home in each other.
Tales from the End by Lissa Bryan
(4 Short Stories / Companion Pieces)
Publication Date: February 4, 2014
From the author of The End of All Things comes a collection of short stories about the Infection that swept around the globe, decimating the population, and leaving behind a small number of survivors, unprepared to deal with the brutal new world which had replaced the one they’d known.
L.A.’s mayor has declared quarantine to try to halt the spread of the Infection. Pearl sets off across the city to buy supplies, but already the world is changing. Something strange is in the air. The Horsemen are coming …
When Veronica’s mother doesn’t come home from work and no one answers the phone when she calls for help, a nine-year-old girl is thrown into the chaos of a world coming to an end. Veronica decides it’s up to her to find her family. “Veronica” is the story of a little girl’s courage in the face of the end of all things.
“I Wandered Lonely As A Cloud”
They called her Shadowfax– the mare Carly and Justin found on their travels. But before she was found by Carly, the retired dressage horse was known as Cloud. An unusual tale of the end, told through the eyes of a confused and lonely horse, left in her pasture.
A previously-published bonus story. Carly knows Justin has never celebrated his birthday, and after society crumbled, no one knows what date it is, anyway. But she wants to do something special for him. Celebrating the little things helps them keep hope alive, and as a blizzard rages outside, a small gesture of love warms their home.
The Land of the Shadow by Lissa Bryan
Publication Date: August 21, 2014
After surviving the Infection and a perilous journey through the wasteland that was once the United States, Carly and Justin have found a safe home in the isolated town of Colby.
Even so, balancing the duties of survival and a growing family isn’t easy. As they emerge as leaders, they face difficult questions about justice in a lawless land, basic human rights, and freedom in a world where strength defines worth. More than ever, they have to rely on one another for strength and support during the darkest of times.
The Crisis is far from over. Their fences won’t keep the world out forever, and a new threat is emerging—a gang of predators who see the town as easy pickings. When danger looms over Colby, Carly must decide how far she’ll go to protect those she loves.
It’s a journey down the long and broken road through The Land of the Shadow.
Shadows Have Gone by Lissa Bryan
Publication Date: March 26, 2015
Carly Daniels knows what it is to suffer loss. She knows what it is to sacrifice. In the two years since a pandemic virus—known only as the Infection—decimated humanity, she’s made choices she never could have imagined. She’s condoned violence in the name of peace and done the unthinkable in the name of mercy. But with Justin at her side, she’s also learned there’s nothing she can’t face and nothing she wouldn’t do to protect those she loves.
But now another threat has arrived in the form of a uniformed man driving an army truck, claiming to represent the remnant of the United States military. Someone has set their sights on their community . . . and on Justin. The struggle to defend their little homeland is far from over, and the visitors may have brought more danger with them than just their weapons.
The shadows are closing in. Carly has to find out whether she has the strength to stand on her own when all of her support has fallen away. What remains when the shadows have gone?
Ghostwriter by Lissa Bryan
Publication Date: October 11, 2012
Unemployed, with her savings dwindling, Sara Howell thinks things are looking up when she lands a ghostwriting job and rents the affordable island home of her favorite author, Seth Fortner, who mysteriously disappeared in 1925.
Strange things happen, making Sara wonder if Seth ever left. When she finds an old trunk of Seth’s letters, she delves into a world she never imagined, filled with love and a family curse it seems only she can break.
Lissa Bryan is an astronaut, renowned Kabuki actress, Olympic pole vault gold medalist, Iron Chef champion, and scientist who recently discovered the cure for athlete’s foot…. though only in her head.
Real life isn’t so interesting, which is why she spends most of her time writing.
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